Vicodin, also known as hydrocodone, belongs to a class of prescription opioids, having a similar chemical structure of naturally grown opium opioids, but made in the lab by the scientists. Vicodin, or hydrocodone, is commonly prescribed as medicine to treat pain and for relaxation. Prescription Vicodin is used to treat moderate to severe pain and produce relaxing effects, that are favorable for those who use this opioid for recreation purposes. Misusing Vicodin may be really detrimental due to its addictive qualities, and often may result in overdoses and death. Other well-known prescription opioids in this class are oxycodone, oxymorphone, morphine, codeine, and fentanyl.  If Vicodin is taken as prescribed it fulfills its purpose and is pretty safe.  Due to its euphoric effects, many patients end up misusing this opioid, or taking it in the way it was not prescribed by their doctor.

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The misuse of Vicodin may be seeing in the following ways:

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  • taking a higher than the prescribed dosage
  • using some one’s prescription for physical conditions, including pain
  • taking the opioid to get high

Vicodin effects on the brain

Vicodin, similar to other opioids, binds to receptors in the brain known as the reward system, spinal cord, and other organs, associated with pleasure and pain. Once opioids attach to these receptors, they release a large flow of dopamine in the system. This phenomenon can drive a person to keep taking the drug repeatedly.

Vicodin and Addiction

A new term for opioid abuse, drug dependence, and drug addiction had been replaced with a new diagnosis called Opioid Use Disorder. There are several symptoms of opioid use disorder or addiction:

  • Taking more drugs, more frequently and longer than intended
  • Inability to stop using the drug or taper it
  • compulsive drug seeking and drug-using
  • Experiencing severe cravings
  • Using drugs despite damaging health effects
  • Engaging in risky activities
  • Failure to fulfill daily responsibilities
  • Isolation due to drug use
  • Developing tolerance to drugs, and requiring higher dosages to get the desired effects
  • Experiencing powerful withdrawal symptoms if the drug intake is halted.

The addiction or opioid use disorder may range from mild, to moderate to severe.

Vicodin withdrawal symptoms

Withdrawal symptoms can be painful and very uncomfortable. This is why some people have a hard time quitting the use of drugs. The severity of withdrawal symptoms depends on how long the opioid was taken, the dosages, and the amount taken. Some of the common symptoms include:

  • severe cravings
  • agitation
  • anxiety
  • slowed breathing
  • vomiting
  • abdominal cramps
  • diarrhea
  • muscle stiffness and bone pains
  • flue-like symptoms
  • tremors
  • sweating
  • confusion

The most dangerous condition derived from Vicodin misuse is called hypoxia. This condition associated with slowed breathing, that decreases the amount of oxygen flowing to the brain. Hypoxia may lead to permanent neurological effects, like coma, permanent brain damage, and death.

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Vicodin Detox and Treatment

Vicodin detoxification procedure is a procedure performed in a medical setting and is supervised by medical professionals. The patient may be given addiction medications to help with withdrawal symptoms. The most commonly prescribed medications are buprenorphine, methadone, and naltrexone.  These medications may help with physical and psychological symptoms. The patient is monitored by medical professionals, and the vital signs are checked periodically. Once the patient is stabilized physically, the mental health disorder is addressed. Since the addiction is a chronic mental health disorder, the patient would need to undergo behavioral therapy to help changing drug use attitudes and drug use expectations.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy can help a recovering addict with the following :

  • Identify the cause of drug use
  • Adapt healthy life skills
  • Learn to cope with life’s stress without using drugs
  • Learn to  manage triggers, and prevent relapse
  • Learn to manage cravings

Individual and group counseling may help to reinforce learning to change drug use behaviors, share similar issues with other peers, improve relationships with family and friends.